Some years ago now I was privileged to be at the Huntington Music Festival, first founded by the violinist and artistic director Richard Tognetti from the Australian Chamber Orchestra, when he introduced to the stage a very young curly-headed handsome young classical guitarist Slava Grigoryan.
To say his playing was awesome is not enough to say, but it was.
Within a few short minutes of his beginning to play not only did we know we were all in for a very special treat, but also that something wonderful had just taken place.
A hot new talented classical guitarist had arrived on the world scene to both enrich and enliven it with his talent.
Since that day Armenian born Australian Slava Grigoryan has gone from strength to strength creating an essential rhythm for life. “Slava Grigoryan is a guitar player of uncommon originality and authority. Musicality, expressivity and daring … a singular talent.” The New York Times
Today Slava Grigoryan enjoys a busy international schedule and as Artistic Director of the Adelaide International Guitar Festival, is still working hard to ensure works played on ‘classical’ guitar are both enjoyed and celebrated as an art form in Australia.
“…The Adelaide International Guitar Festival has acquired a stature and credibility that genuinely puts it in on the world map”. The Australian
By the time Slava’s brother Leonard, who is nine years younger, arrived on the music scene, Slava had already forged his career.
Thankfully they have been able to enjoy and passionately pursue separate pathways before coming together in a fusion of styles and sweet sounds.
Just recently they released their CD “This Time”, their 6th duo release. This masterful CD showcases the Grigoryan Brothers and their amazing skill with strings. It’s been declared ABC CD of the week December 1 – 4, 2014 and is the perfect Xmas gift.
This landmark album of stunningly beautiful works helps us realize why so many contemporary internationally acclaimed composers have delivered their creations for classical guitar into the Grigoryan Brothers capable hands for both interpretation and presentation.
Their music is infused with emotion, ranging from minimalist works to those that reflect abundance, changing our perceptions of how range, tone and pitch can be refined.
It is graceful, stylish, and entirely distinct, featuring a display of good taste in every aspect of presentation, with sweet sounds that are entirely beguiling.
Leonard studied overseas, dedicating himself to both classical and jazz genres. In 2005 he joined Australia’s classical guitar super group the Aria award winning Saffire, a quartet in which his brother had also played.
Leonard is an active arranger and composer and together the Grigoryan Brothers make a considerable whole. They have an appreciation and understanding of differing musical styles and share a passionate pursuit for their craft.
They enjoyed separate careers until Leonard returned to Australia from overseas and inevitably the two brothers began playing together, providing live audiences with an opportunity to enjoy special performances.
The Grigoryan Brothers push the limits of their own preferred musical genres, challenging themselves at all levels of playing and interpretation.
They are taking on the considerable challenges of producing an all new musical sound and aesthetic, while enjoying the distinct satisfaction of extending their traditional art into new arenas.
They have breathed life into traditional classical guitar works, riding a rocket that has also seen them taking classical guitar art to all new heights of excellence.
There are fourteen tracks on the CD, all of which showcase the brothers skill, technical brilliance and rare ability to provide listeners with a musical language rich in reflective beauty, expressing emotions and ideas that are a powerful force affecting the lives of many.
The mesmerizing Mosstrooper Peak by acclaimed Australian composer Nigel Westlake (1958 – ) provides an outstanding centerpiece.
It honours its composer and the son he lost tragically in 2008, its ornamental melodies and tonal textures creating an intimate conversation between this dynamic duo, one that celebrates life.
This is a joyous celebration of the sound of a musical style that is essential to the human spirit, one that inspires the creation of a strong sense of place, an essential if we are to nurture community life.
Leonard Grigoryan contributed This Time and After Dark to the album.
His music may in many aspects sound familiar, however its a whole new expose of a contemporary classical style.
Friend and collaborator Luke Howard provided Longplay, a minimalist piece that also showcases percussion, piano and synthesized drone.
Slava and Leonard echo each other engaging in a musical conversation that ebbs and flows while expressing a sense of urgency through melody, as the guitars duel with each other.
Legendary performer and composer Ralph Towner (USA) is friend and hero of the Grigoryan Brothers. He is also a collaborator with Slava, in their renowned trio with Wolfgang Muthspiel.
His works Duende and Sarabande are his two compositions that represent opposite ends of the musical spectrum.
Sarabande is stately, elegant and dignified, thrilling at a very deep level as it slowly and sweetly expresses and engages our emotions, which touch the heart softly.
Duende is Latin; elevating, lilting luxuriously as it explores and responds to exotic rhythms that slowly draw you into enacting a memorable dance of the soul. It’s truly special.
Two Swings In The Heart Shaped Garden is a playful work by Melbourne-based composer Shaun Rigney. This is an extraordinarily beautiful composition, transposing sweet sounds from strings to soul in a heartbeat.
Shaun has also played a significant role as producer of This Time, as well as the Grigoryan Brothers previous CDs
The title track is enigmatic, unlike any other piece of classical guitar music yet heard.
It’s a contemplative melody, shimmering one minute, disquieting the next.
Incantation No 2 by UK composer William Lovelady, is a haunting meditation.
It was originally written for Slava and has now been rearranged by the composer for both brothers.
Produced by Phillip Houghton, one of Australia’s most influential composers of works for classical guitar, Wave Radiance explores that inner universe we are all drawn to, implying more than simple motion; it echoes the very nature of our complexities and contradictions in character.
The CD This Time presents the Grigoryan Brothers, celebrates their heroic qualities in harmonious proportion, as they deliver powerful performances of sensuous beauty and soaring vitality.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept, 2015
Available on iTunes
ON THE WHICH WAY MUSIC LABEL
DISTRIBUTED BY ROCKET DISTRIBUTION
Music by Nigel Westlake, Leonard Grigoryan, Ralph Towner, Luke Howard, Philip Houghton, William Lovelady & Shaun Rigney
Recorded Rainbow Studio in Oslo
The Tour THIS TIME will be part of the Local Heroes 2015 festival of music to be held in the Melbourne Recital Centre. It will be but one aspect o an extensive national tour.